10 Server Predictions for '11

It's that time of year when everyone predicts what will happen in the coming year, mostly about how enterprise businesses will spend money or how consumers will react to a product or event, but some predictions are more concrete and measurable than others. These 10 predictions for 2011 will have you watching the latest developments from the big hardware manufacturers. Sure, some are wishful thinking, but others are clearly within reach for a 2011 delivery time frame.

1. SSDs

10 predictions based on server trends and server hardware evolution. How accurate will they be?

Solid state drives, or SSDs, started hitting production servers in stealth fashion in 2010, but expect their presence to grow in 2011. SSDs have no moving parts and a mean time between failures (MTBF) in the 1 million hour range, and their price is now within affordable reach for even the stingiest server builder.

2. On-Demand CPUs

With the move toward virtualization and cloud computing, CPU manufacturers will have to continue changing with the times and the demands of this new computing environment. On-demand CPU allocation is one way to do that. Here's how it works: You have a certain number of physical CPUs and a number of virtual CPUs per physical CPU. When demand on that physical CPU climbs to a preset amount, the CPU fires up a virtual CPU. When demand increases to the level where another physical CPU would decrease the overall load on a system, another CPU fires up to meet that demand. Dynamic CPU allocation handled by the system that bypasses software layer involvement would dramatically increase system response and efficiency.

3. Reduced Format

With data center floor space and rack space at a premium, it's time for server hardware manufacturers to respond. For reduced format server systems, don't think 2U, 1U or blades; think MacBook Air. That doesn't mean you should put Macbook Air units into your data centers, but rather that this type of "paper thin" format is the future. The use of SSDs and flash memory for harboring operating systems and applications means server formats could use a major design overhaul.

4. Hardware-Based Watchdogs

How much do you spend annually on watchdog software programs to monitor system performance, to keep an eye on TCP ports, and to maintain patches and other system needs? Mainboard manufacturers will step up their game to provide these services on a chip. On-chip services alleviates problems with connectivity to a reporting server, since local logging will still occur if the network is offline.

5. Wireless Connectivity

Servers will ship with wireless connectivity and with wireless turned on by default. Soon, mainboard manufacturers will drop integrated wired connections for the less costly wireless ones. High bandwidth wireless connectivity inside a data center is a beautiful thing. A more efficient data center without miles of cables, concentrators and racks of switches will be a significant shift indeed.

This article was originally published on Dec 29, 2010
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